Public Values

Ontario teachers call for two-year moratorium on Grades 3 and 6 standardized testing

Teachers assess students better than EQAO tests - ETFO.

Something is wrong when important topics get ignored so students can prep for tests - Sam Hammond.TORONTO, August 30, 2010: Buoyed by new research, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) is calling for the government to establish a two-year moratorium on grade three and grade six Education Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO) testing to allow for public consultation on the uses, value and impact of the testing regime.

The Federation, which represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education workers across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada, says the standardized testing in its current form is a costly exercise that is failing students and forcing teachers to abandon key parts of a balanced education for too much of the school year. "Something is very wrong when areas including science, history, social studies and the arts are getting sidelined in the race to get young students prepared for EQAO, which is focused solely on literacy and math," said ETFO President Sam Hammond, adding that teachers are being buried by testing initiatives.

"Our teachers are observing and assessing students every day of the year so they are able to provide thorough assessments that are far more meaningful than the EQAO regime," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "Teachers can assess how well students are doing without $100 million of testing and bureaucratic management that is being spent on these standardized tests."

The federation says the standardized testing in its current form is a costly exercise that is forcing teachers to neglect key parts of a balanced education for too much of the school year. Hammond added that ETFO's call for a moratorium is timely, considering that EQAO test results are plateauing.

"Teacher assessment provides immediate meaningful feedback for both students and their parents, unlike EQAO testing which only provides a score," said Hammond.

Addressing over 500 delegates to the Federation's annual meeting earlier in the month, Hammond unveiled new research and a video that documents significant teacher concerns regarding EQAO testing and its impact on education. The Federation commissioned Environics Research Group to convene eight focus groups of ETFO teachers across the province to probe their experience with EQAO testing as well as other assessment tools and strategies they are using in the classroom.

"Teachers told us EQAO testing does little to improve learning. It was originally set up to test the system as a whole, but now it is driving what gets taught in the classroom," added Hammond. "We're asking for a moratorium and review of the testing regime and a reduction in the number of Ministry initiatives driven by the test so that teachers can have the time to get back to providing a balanced education for every student."

Hammond also expressed concern that EQAO results are forming the basis for the School Information Finder, which real estate companies are using to rank schools and neighbourhoods. "Our teachers find it incredible that one-time tests on math and literacy are being used to assess a school, when the reality is that teachers in that school are focused on successfully meeting the broader academic, social and emotional needs of students."

"This government is spending in excess of $100 million dollars on EQAO testing and the Literacy and Numeracy education bureaucracy," said Hammond. "We're saying that money could be much more wisely spent and we're asking the government to listen to our concerns."

Links and sources
  Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario

Posted: September 13, 2010


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